WEAPONS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, 05/07/1991, Question and Answer
- Basis Date:
- J. Johnston
- Senate Appropriations
- Docfile Number:
- Hearing Date:
- DOE Lead Office:
- Energy and Water Development
- Hearing Subject:
- WEAPONS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR JOHNSTON
Weapons Research and Development
Funding and employment related to the technology base of the
weapons labs continues a downward trend.
Question: What accounts for the continued reduction in both
funding and employment levels?
Answer: The continued reduction follows from the combined
pressures of reduced funding available for nuclear Weapons Research,
Development and Testing (WRD&T), constant requirements to support the
existing and near-term stockpile, and increased requirements for
dealing with a host of restoration, security, environmental, health,
and safety (ES&H) issues.
Question: Is the level of resources requested in the 1992
budget request adequate to address priority activities foreseen at
Answer: Yes, but this level does erode the WRD&T technology
base and results in stretching out further several of the ES&H
activities which are planned.
Question: What is the rationale behind the decision to give
such activities as Technology Commercialization and Inertial Fusion a
higher funding priority than the weapons research, development, and
testing technology base program?
Answer: The Weapons Research, Development and Testing
technology base programs are part of a much larger program. The
laboratories are multi-purpose institutions and carry out a large
"number of missions ranging from human genome and superconductivity
research to development of massively parallel computational
techniques, in addition to their basic nuclear weapons mission.
Both technology commercialization and inertial fusion ate
viewed as activities that not only have their own potential payoff,
but also support and extend the basic nuclear weapons mission. For
this reason, they are supported as an overall part of the program in
a manner that balances various programmatic needs against available
Question: Funding for Technology Commercialization goes from
$20 million in fiscal year 1991 to $32 million in 1992, a 60%
increase in just one year. What is the justification for such a
large increase in one year? Can this program assimilate such a large
increase without waste and inefficient or ineffective use of the
Answer: Technology Commercialization within Defense Programs
is a new initiative. Both the laboratories and private sector
businesses are just becoming aware of the potential and importance of
technology transfer. In FY 1991, the Technology Commercialization
Initiative issued a call for laboratory/industry proposals which
generated more interest and support from the private sector than the
budget could support. The willingness of private sector partners to
match Government dollars demonstrates their confidence in the
We will be funding about 35 of these proposals in FY 1991,
almost all of which are multiyear projects that will require FY 1992
funding. The FY 1992 call for proposals has just been issued, and
based on the increasing maturity of the program, we expect a greater
response than in the previous year. Consequently, even with the
proposed budget increase, it will not be possible to support all of
the high quality proposals that we expect to receive.
All proposals are reviewed by at least two independent
technical review panels. These reviews assure that only proposals
that meet all program requirements, including benefits to Defense
Programs and industry, are considered for funding. These reviews,
coupled with the requirement for private sector cost-sharing, provide
assurance that program resources will be used effectively.
Technology transfer leverages government dollars with private
sector dollars to fulfill a common need. This program brings private
sector expertise and private sector dollars into government
Question: How does the technology commercialization program
benefit the weapons program?
Answer: The Technology Commercialization Initiative benefits
the weapons program in a number of ways. All projects must be in
areas of technology which are related to the weapons program mission.
Selection of projects is coordinated with the Office of Military
Applications to assure that this condition is satisfied. The
leveraging of Defense Programs research and development funds with
private sector funds contributes to the maintenance of a stronger
technical base in the laboratories to meet future national security
needs than would be possible with Just Defense Programs (DP) funding.
The laboratories are also strengthened through their increased
exposure to the ideas and capabilities existing in the private
sector. In addition, the program helps to create or maintain a
viable domestic supplier base for critical DP's and Department of
Defense needs. This will become even more important as the
Department moves forward with its effort to upgrade and modernize the
nuclear weapons complex and privatize the production of a greater
proportion of nonnuclear components.
Nuclear Weapon Safety
DOE and DOD continue to give very high priority to modernizing
the SRAM A (W-69) warhead which has the potential for burn and/or
detonation during an aircraft accident or fire. The result is
dispersal of plutonium over a wide area.
Testimony at last years hearing indicated a 1 year slip in the
delivery of the missile system because of development problems, and
concern over constraints in DOE's production complex (restart of
Question: Does the budget contain sufficient funding to
maintain the high priority status of this weapons safety work?
Answer: Modernizing the SRAM A (W-69) with modern nuclear
detonation and plutonium dispersal safety features would be the
equivalent of developing a new warhead. The DOD has addressed the
primary safety concern by removing the SRAM A from active alert. The
long term solution will be achieved by replacing the SRAM A with the
SRAM II (W-89), which includes insensitive high explosive and a fire
resistant pit. There is sufficient funding for the SRAM II program.
To implement some of the Drell Panel's recommendations for
incorporating modern safety technology into the stockpile requires
reopening of the Rocky Flats plant. The funding for addressing the
facility safety and environmental issues is central to this goal.
Another important factor in incorporating this technology would be an
adequately funded nuclear test program. The Drell Panel made two
other points which have an impact on funding. First, the
laboratories must have the resources made available to develop the
data bases for determining the safety benefit of design features and
design options. Second, to provide intrinsically safe weapons in the
future requires an investment in exploratory research.
Question: Is everything being done that can or should be done
in fiscal year 1992?
Answer: The President's budget is adequate to address the
highest priority concerns.
Question: Has there been any change in either the warhead or
missile system delivery schedule since last year?
Answer: The SRAM II missile delivery system has slipped due to
a reevaluation of the program schedule by the Air Force. The Air
Force schedule indicates that the Department of Energy (DOE) is to
provide first assets delivered (FAD) in the first quarter of FY 1996.
DOE is making a commensurate adjustment to its production schedule to
remain in step with this Air Force schedule change.
Question: Update the Committee on the status of the technical
problems which caused last years schedule slip.
Answer: There are no technical problems with the W89 warhead
for the SRAM II that caused schedule adjustments. The Department of
Energy adjustment in production schedule was a direct result of the
slip in the Air Force schedule caused by the missile motor production
Question: How could the operational status of Rocky Flats
impact the ability of DOE to address this weapons safety issue?
Answer: The Department of Energy (DOE) has placed high priority
on modernizing or replacing the W69 with a warhead that incorporates
all of the modern safety features. A cost tradeoff study performed
while the W89 was in Phase 2 development indicated that it was more
effective to replace the W69 warhead on SRAM A with the new W89
warhead, rather than use a Stockpile Improvement Program (SIP) to
make safety changes in the W69. Congressional appropriation language
mandated that the W89 warhead be compatible with the SRAM A missile.
Question: Are you constrained by budgetary considerations from
meeting required operational schedules?
Answer: The FY 1992 budget request includes adequate funding to
meet schedules for the W89 warhead for SRAM II, approved in the
1991-1996 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Memorandum.
Question: What is the status of the Trident warhead safety
Answer: We still view W88/Trident-II system as safe.
Nevertheless, the Navy implemented Drell Panel recommendations to
change Trident-II missile handling procedures, and the Department of
Energy continues to improve the three-dimensional computer codes to
predict warhead behavior in abnormal environments. The
W88/Trident-II system will be included in a Special Stockpile
Improvement Review undertaken by the Nuclear Weapons Council.
Nuclear Directed Weapons
Last year Congress shifted the Nuclear Directed Energy Weapons
(NDEW) activities under the core research and development weapons
programs and appropriated $90.6 million under operating expenses.
Question: Update the Committee on DOE's current activities and
what the Department plans for NDEW activities in 1992.
Answer: In FY 1991, the Department of Energy (DOE) continues to
do threat assessment research on x-ray laser (XRL), nuclear explosive
driven optical frequency laser (OFL), hypervelocity projectile (HVP),
and nuclear reactor driven OFL concepts. The XRL research centers on
preparation for an underground nuclear test [DELETED)
The reactor driven OFL work continues to investigate the physics
issues and technologies related to high-power reactor pumped lasers,
including energy extraction and beam quality issues.
In FY 1992, it is expected that the basic threat assessment
research on the XRL, HVP, and reactor driven OFL concepts will
continue, although at a lower level due to reduced funding. The
research on the nuclear explosive driven OFL is expected to be
significantly scaled back or possibly eliminated to fund higher
priority programs. The only underground nuclear test planned for
Nuclear Directed Energy Weapons (NDEW) concepts in FY 1992 is an XRL
Question: What funding levels are being requested for both DOE
and DOD for fiscal year 1992 and how does that compare to the 1991
Answer: In FY 1991 the Congress deleted Nuclear Directed Energy
Weapons (NDEW) as a separate funding line in the Department of Energy
(DOE) budget, integrating the appropriated funds into the Core
Weapons Research and Development programs. Thus, no separate NDEW
program currently exists. However, DOE estimates that about
$84 million in fiscal year 1992 will be needed to support the threat
assessment research related to NDEW concepts. This level of funding
compares to the $90.7 million appropriated in FY 1991 by Congress for
the NDEW work. In addition, the Strategic Defense Initiative
Organization (SDIO) provided $8.8 million to the DOE on a Military
Interdepartmental Purchase Request (MIPR) to directly support the
NDEW threat assessment research on the x-ray laser concept. SDIO has
thus far not provided an estimate of Department of Defense funding
for NDEW threat assessment for FY 1992.
Question: How much funding was transferred to DOE by DOD for
SDI-related work in 1990 and 1991, and what is planned for 1992 and
Answer: The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO)
has provided $11 million in FY 1990 and $8.8 million in FY 1991 to
the Department of Energy through Military Interdepartmental Purchase
Requests to directly support Nuclear Directed Energy Weapons
activities. The amounts to be transferred for FY 1992 and FY 1993
are not known at this time.
Question: What SDI/NDEW related tests are planned for 1991 and
1992? What is the purpose and objective of each test?
Answer: The Department of Energy (DOE) is not conducting
Nuclear Directed Energy Weapons (NDEW) research as a Strategic
Defense Initiative Organization project, but rather as a part of the
DOE mission to do threat assessment research on advanced nuclear
weapons concepts that could threaten the United States strategic
deterrent forces and future strategic defenses. The SDIO will
benefit, however, from the resulting research conducted by DOE NDEW
threat assessment work.
The only NDEW underground test planned for FY 1992 is an x-ray
laser experiment [DELETED]
Weapons Testing Program
The weapons testing program continues the downward trend of the
past few years. While up slightly over the 1991 funding level, the
program is 10% below the 1990 level of funding.
Question: How do you view this trend and is the request, in
terms of both dollars and numbers of tests, adequate to support the
national security needs and objectives of the country?
Answer: We view the trend with concern. While the FY 1992
request will enable the Department to meet minimum national security
requirements, further erosion of WRD&T may indeed prevent us from
meeting national security objectives.
Question: How does a declining level of funding in the testing
program impact the technology base of the weapons labs?
Answer: The declining level of test funding impacts the
technology base because the reduced level of testing precludes the
designers and engineers from obtaining the results of experiments and
tests of their designs.
Question: Given the importance of these activities to the
national security, how do you justify this continued decline?
Answer: We have had to make some tough decisions in order to
ensure that our highest priorities are funded in an environment of
decreasing resources. Our budget request reflects an appropriate
balance of many conflicting priorities.
Question: What is the status of the proposed reprogramming that
would add an additional $20 million to the testing program for 1991?
Answer: A proposed reprogramming of $20 million to the testing
program for 1991 is currently being circulated for approval within
Question: What is the justification and need to conduct this
Answer: The reprogramming is required to bring overall test
program funding into better balance with research and development
funding for FY 1991 to permit us to follow through on the required
number of tests planned for FY 1991 and preparations for FY 1992
tests. Receiving this funding late in the year means that
specifically, it will be applied to test activities [DELETED]
Funding will provide for emplacement hardware,
diagnostic equipment, and for labor associated with event
construction and diagnostics.
Question: What date do you assume the reprogrammed funds will
Answer: We assume that the reprogrammed funding will become
available in time to support activities planned for the remainder of
FY 1991. Without successful reprogramming, major layoffs of
contractor personnel at the Test Site would be required.
Question: How much of the $18 million will be obligated and
expended in fiscal year 1991?
Answer: We expect to obligate and expend all of the
reprogrammed funds in fiscal year 1991.
Question: Discuss the current status of the Combined Device
Assembly Facility (85-D-105) at the Nevada Test Site, particularly
the problem with the special doors needed for the facility?
Answer: The Combined Device Assembly Facility project is
63 percent complete. The remaining work includes minor remedial work
on the facility, procurement and installation of the cranes and
radiography machine, installation of security system, communications,
paving, and the procurement of the special doors.
We do not foresee any more significant technical issues in the
procurement and installation of the special doors. Discussions with
the firms that have submitted proposals have clarified the major
issues with respect to safety and security.
The challenge that lies ahead is minimizing the impact the
special door problems have on the overall project schedule. The
technical evaluation, based on audits, has been completed. There
were items requiring additional information, which is needed for the
preparation of the pricing proposal. Once this is done, the Nevada
Operations Office will complete the pre-negotiation memorandum and
forward it to Headquarters for approval. Once approved, negotiations
leading to an award will begin. The bid acceptance period has been
extended through the end of August 1991.
Question: How confident is the Department that the $12 million
requested for 1992 can be fully and efficiently utilized in FY 1992?
Answer: The funding profile for the Combined Device Assembly
Facility was based on awarding a contract for the special doors late
in the second quarter or early in the third quarter FY 1991. The
award will now slip until the fourth quarter of FY 1991. This slip
will not impact our ability to use effectively the funding requested
in the FY 1992 budget request.
Question: What is the status of appropriations, obligations,
and expenditures for the project?
Answer: As of April 1991, $73,602,000 has been appropriated, of
which we have obligated $66,699,110 and costed $52,936,199.
Question: How realistic is the 4th quarter 1993 completion date
shown in the budget justification?
Answer: Given the slip in awarding the contract for the special
doors, we expect completion in the first quarter of FY 1994.
Question: When will the review of the project cost estimated be
Answer: The next review of project cost will take place in June
Question: What would be the impact in terms of higher costs if
no further funding were provided for the project until a firm cost
estimate were available?
Answer: The cost estimate is sufficiently firm to proceed with
the project. If no FY 1992 funding is provided, we would anticipate
a two-year delay in the project and an increase in construction costs
of about $7,000,000. The two year delay would occur because of a
year's delay in funding, the first year, and the time required to
reinitiate the procurement process, the second year. The cost to
maintain the existing facility during this period would be
approximately $1,500,000 per year. During this two-year delay, we
would continue to operate existing device assembly facilities with
safety and security features which are less capable than those that
would be provided by the Combined Device Assembly Facility.
Question: When does the budget request assume that the problems
with the doors will be resolved?
Answer: The budget request assumed award of the special door
contract in late second quarter or early third quarter FY 1991.
Weapons Production and Surveillance
At the time the 1992 budget was prepared the Nuclear Weapons
Stockpile Memorandum had not been approved by the President.
Therefore, the national security requirements for nuclear weapons was
Question: Has there been slippage in any Department of Defense
(DOD) delivery/platform systems which would result in a corresponding
slip in production schedule for the related warhead?
Answer: During the last year, the production programs for the
Nuclear Depth/Strike Bomb (B90), Follow-on-to-Lance (FOTL), and Small
ICBM (W87-1) were terminated because their DOD delivery/platform
systems were placed on indefinite hold or terminated. The SRAM II
(W89) and SRAM T (W91) warhead production programs were slipped as
follows due to delivery system slippage:
WARHEAD START PRODUCTION COMPLETE PRODUCTION
Last year W89 1993 1998
This year 1994 1998
Last year W91 1995 1999
This year 1997 1998
Laboratory Directed Research and Development
Earlier this year the Department submitted a report describing
all overhead taxes and indirect charges which are made against direct
programs and the justification for each program charge or tax as
requested by the Congress in the conference report on the FY 1991
Appropriations bill. This is the Laboratory Directed Research and
Development which the House subcommittee was critical of last year.
Question: What is the purpose of this type of flexibility and
how important is it in assisting with the national security effort?
Answer: The Packard Panel Report (Federal Laboratory Review
Panel of the White House Science Council, Office of Science and
Technology Policy) issued in May 1983, expressed concern that the
federal laboratory directors were not allowed enough flexibility to
explore innovative scientific opportunities. The Report recommended
that 5 to 10 percent of the Federal laboratories annual funding
should be devoted to independent research and development (R&D). In
December 1985 the Energy Research Advisory Board (ERAB) recommended
that 'current exploratory Research and Development levels of
1-2 percent [of] total operational funding should be increased to the
range of 5-10 percent over the next five years.'
The national laboratories have highly trained and competent
staff and management working in the forefronts of science and
technology. They are clearly in a strong position to determine those
projects which have the greatest potential to benefit the national
security and the scientific and economic vitality of the nation.
The Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program
is an important part of the mission of the national laboratories and
plays a vital role in maintaining and upgrading our nuclear
deterrent. Just as the ixisting nuclear weapon stockpile and current
weapon production is based on past R&D, LDRD provides part of today's
R&D base which will ensure the future vitality of the DOE weapons
program. The need to expand and improve continually the Nation's
science and technology base was demonstrated dramatically by the
recent success of Operation Desert Storm. Our ability to respond to
the increased ES&H requirements and our ability to improve the safety
of nuclear weapons as recommended in the Drell Report is only
possible as a result of past research and technology development
LDRD (and its predecessor Exploratory Research and Development,
ER&D) has had substantial success in contributing to the technology
base of the Defense Programs and the nation. A long list of examples
can be provided. In addition, it should be noted that many of the
LDRD projects at the three DOE weapons design laboratories have
resulted in a large number of R&D 100 awards, more than any other
agency or company, public or private. These awards are given by
industry for those developments which they believe are of greatest
significance to the future of U.S. industry.
Question: What are the Department's current policies and
procedures related to laboratory directed research and development?
Answer: The Defense Programs and Energy Research office worked
together to produce a new DOE order (DOE 5000.4) that was issued on
February 28, 1991, establishing uniform policy and guidelines for all
the national laboratories' Laboratory Directed Research and
Development (LDRD) programs. This order will be fully implemented by
the Laboratories in FY 1992. Significant aspects of the new order
Laboratories must submit annual LDRD plans and reports
Laboratory LDRD plans and proposed annual funding levels must
be approved by the Secretary
Laboratories LDRD activities must be reviewed annually by the
cognizant Secretarial Officer and responsible DOE operations
Laboratories must accumulate LDRD funds equitably from all
sources of operating and capital equipment budget
LDRD projects will normally have a maximum period of funding
(e.g., 3 years) to be established by the laboratory director
and incorporated in the laboratory's LDRD management process
unless exception is granted by the cognizant Secretarial
Establishes an upper limit of 6 percent of the laboratories
operating and capital equipment budget which is consistent
with levels recommended in reviews of the national
laboratories by the Office of Science and Technology Policy
and the Energy Research Advisory Board.
In addition, prior to implementation of the new order, the
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Application sent a letter to
the Laboratory directors requiring that all LDRD projects be
submitted to DOE Headquarters. Each lab director was required to
certify that the portion of the LDRD funds derived from Atomic Energy
Defense Activities are being used for the "purpose of maintaining the
vitality of the laboratory in defense-related scientific
disciplines," in conformance with section 3132(d) of the National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1991. The laboratories
complied with this request.
Question: What audit and accounting controls have been
established to monitor this work?
Answer: Department of Energy (DOE) Order 5000.4 issued on
February 28, 1991, establishes the policy and guidelines regarding
Laboratory Directed Research Development (LDRD). LDRD expenditures
are considered an allowable cost in accordance with the terms and
conditions of the laboratory operating contract and are identified in
the laboratory accounting system. Each project has a proposal with a
scope of work, budget, and schedule. Each project is uniquely
budgeted for and has a unique cost code.
According to DOE Order 5000.4, each laboratory will submit an
annual written report on its LORD activities through the appropriate
Operations Office Manager to the cognizant Secretarial Officer. The
annual report should include a technical and financial summary of the
program and a short description of each funded project.
Additionally, each laboratory will provide reports to the Office of
Scientific and Technical Information. Audits have been conducted on
the LDRD program by both the IG and GAO during the past several
Question: The estimate of lab directed research at the 5 multi-
program Defense labs range from 26% and totals some $140 million.
What is an appropriate level on a percentage basis?
Answer: There are five Energy Research and four Defense
Programs multiprogram laboratories authorized to conduct LDRD. The
total funding estimated for all nine laboratories for LDRD in FY 1992
is $140.5 million; with a majority of the laboratories supporting the
activity well below the maximum 6 percent. The estimates for Energy
Research laboratories are in the 0.8 to 4 percent range; the Defense
Programs laboratories are in the 2 to 6 percent range. These
percentages reflect differences between the laboratories in research
emphasis, location, and methods used to support the science and
technology base. In general, external reviews have given the
laboratories very high marks for their use of the discretionary
Research and Development funding and recommended levels of 5 to
10 percent. A study conducted at the request of the Assistant
Secretary for Defense Programs issued a report in April 1990,
recommending a maximum level of 6 percent with the actual level at
each laboratory determined by the quality of laboratory proposals and
past performance on LDRD. The new Department of Energy order
implements that recommendation.
Question: What would be the impact of limiting lab directed R&D
to 3 or 4% on the Department's ability to address national security
Answer: The "appropriate" level is a judgement call. However,
as we reduce the efforts focused on long-range development, we
increase the risk that other nations will equal and surpass our
nuclear deterrent capabilities and/or negate our deterrent as a
result of new technological breakthroughs. The actual costs are very
small in the context of national defense. The benefit of long-range
research has been demonstrated over the years by the laboratories
ability to respond to new nuclear weapon system requirements in terms
of mission, increased safety, reliability, enhanced command and
control, improved manufacturability, etc. We must not lose sight of
the critical need to maintain and improve our scientific and
technological capabilities. In the light of the rapidly changing
world and a highly uncertain future environment, it is appropriate,
indeed essential, to focus significant resources to enhance our long-
range research and development efforts.
Rocky Flats Plant Restart
The Dire Emergency Supplemental for 1991 provided $283 million
for essential activities and to restart production operations at the
Rocky Flats Plant.
Question: How is work proceeding and what is the schedule for
restarting facility operation?
Answer: Work is proceeding in an organized and methodical
manner according to the plan for resumption. EG&G has completed its
corporate Operational Readiness Review (ORR). The DOE ORR team is
expected to initiate the DOE ORR later this month. There is no
specific schedule for resumption of the buildings and plutonium
operations, since resumption will be dictated by assurance of safety
and meeting the guidance already given by the Secretary.
Question: Can you provide a more specific schedule than the
summer of 1991 for Building 559 and the fall of 1991 for
Answer: Given nominal timeframes for the Operational Readiness
Reviews (ORRs), administration and concurrences at the Department of
Energy (DOE) Headquarters between offices, and time for input by the
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, it is currently estimated
that buildings would resume operations approximately 60 days after
the DOE ORR is initiated. The DOE ORR for Building 559 will start
later this month. The DOE ORR for building 707 has not be set,
however, it is expected to begin in early fall.
Question: What uncertainties could impact DOE's current
Answer: Schedule uncertainties would exist in the Operational
Readiness Reviews if any safety problems which might take additional
time to rectify, any legal challenges that enjoined the Department
from proceeding according to schedule, any inability to meet
restrictions set for waste storage and handling at Rocky Flats, and
any unknown technical safety problems are uncovered.
Question: Can you be more precise on the date for restart of
Rocky Flats that was assumed in developing the budget request for
Answer: The budget request for 1992 is in line with the current
estimated start dates of the Department of Energy (DOE) Operational
Readiness Reviews (ORRs) for each building which will undergo an ORR.
Given a nominal time period of 60 days following the start of a DOE
ORR and approval for resumption, the budget supports those plutonium
operations expected to be in operation in FY 1992. Given schedule
uncertainties, such as unknown technical safety problems or legal
injunctions, the FY 1992 budget supports necessary operations to
At this time the DOE ORR for Building 559 will begin later this
month. The DOE ORR for Building 707 has not been set but is expected
to begin in early fall.
.Question: How would DOE meet their national security
responsibilities if, as some have suggested, Rocky Flats was closed
in the very near future?
Answer: Should Rocky Flats be closed prior to a new facility
being available to produce plutonium components (pits) in the
quantity necessary to satisfy stockpile requirements, the Department
6f Energy (DOE) would be limited in its ability to provide new weapon
Safety improvements to the present stockpile could only be accommodated
where there are no changes in the present design of the nuclear
package. DOE would continue to provide support to the present
stockpile with respect to limited life component exchanges as
Question: Has the Department explored the possibility of using
SIS technology and the facility at Lawrence Livermore as an
alternative to continued operation of Rocky Flats?
Answer: A preliminary study was conducted on the cost,
feasibility, and time period of using the Lawrence Livermore Special
Isotope Separation Facility design as a new Rocky Flats plutonium
parts production facility. The study in the Fall of 1990 concluded
that it would take a minimum of 10 years and $625 million dollars
depending on the site chosen and the availability of infrastructure
support before a production facility could be built and operating.
Question: What options exist or are being explored to
manufacture pits if Rocky Flats operation is delayed or closed?
Question: Would these options meet the production requirements
presented in the stockpile memorandum? If not, please explain why
(be specific by weapons system)?
In addition to what is currently in the stockpile memorandum, the Drell
Committee has made recommendations for safety improvements, such as the
use of insensitive high explosive and fire resistance, where the
feasibility for pit reuse would need further evaluation.
Question: Does the complex have the capability to process and
produce weapons specification plutonium ready for manufacture into
pits at sites other than Rocky Flats?
Answer: The Department has operated plutonium scrap and residue
recovery facilities at the Savannah River Site (SRS), Hanford and the
Los Alamos National Laboratory as capabilities and schedules
permitted. The types of plutonium scrap material that can be
processed varies from site to site.
plutonium components from weapon returns are currently being
processed by the F-Canyon. When the New Special Recovery facility
becomes fully operational in FY 1992, the SRS will have a capability
to dissolve impure metal. [DELETED]
At Hanford, plutonium recovery from scrap and residues is
provided in the Plutonium Reclamation Facility (PRF), which is
located in the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP). PRF is capable of
processing plutonium oxides, plutonium scrap metals, plutonium
nitrate solutions, plutonium sludges and plutonium ash. Preparations
for startup of the PRF are underway. However, resumption of
operation is dependent on resolution of environmental regulatory
compliance issues. The Department plans to conduct limited
stabilization operations in the PFP starting in mid-1991 to complete
processing some of the materials remaining in the processing lines
and to support material clean-out activities. These limited
operations are necessary to place PFP in a safe standby mode and the
recovered plutonium will be converted to an oxide form for safe
storage/shipment as opposed to conversion to specification metal as
was the case in past years. There are no existing or planned
capabilities for processing of returns at Hanford.
At the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a wider variety of
plutonium residues can be recovered as these facilities are operated
primarily for research and development purposes. In addition to the
residues capable of being processed at the SRS and in the PRF,
Los Alamos facilities can be operated to process plutonium/beryllium
sources, impure plutonium metals, plutonium/chloride oxides and a
variety of low grade plutonium bearing materials. Approximately
[DELETED] will be provided to Rocky Flats from LANL.
The capabilities for recovery of plutonium from scrap and
residue materials are variable and, at Savannah River and Hanford,
are dependent on other baseline plutonium production missions. The
capacities at Los Alamos vary with the quality of the plutonium
bearing material, particularly since these recovery facilities are
operated, in part, to develop recovery methods.
Question: If DOE were directed not to restart the Rocky Flats
facility, how would you meet the requirements of the stockpile
Answer: If the Department of Energy (DOE) were directed not to
restart the Rocky Flats facility, DOE would not be able to meet the
requirements of the stockpile memorandum. DOE could use interim
measures, such as pit reuse, to meet some aspects of the stockpile
memorandum. However, its ability to support fully the stockpile
memorandum, meet safety improvements in stockpiled weapons, and
maintain a knowledge base and capability for future weapon production
requirements would be severely undermined.
Question: What would it cost and how long would it take to
provide an interim capability to replace Rocky Flats?
Answer: Initial studies indicate a facility which could produce
plutonium components requires a minimum time period of 10 years and a
minimum of $625 million dollars depending upon infrastructure
available at the site chosen for the facility.
Question: The Reconfiguration Study focuses on two options for
the weapons complex in the future and both options would relocate
functions carried out at the Rocky Flats Plant. In addition,
Secretary Watkins has said that the goal is to get out of Rocky Flats
as soon as possible. Why then, can't the Rocky Flats be removed from
the Reconfiguration process and placed on an expedited path for
relocation and closure?
Answer: The Secretary's proposal to relocate nuclear weapons
missions now carried out at the Department of Energy's Rocky Flats
Plant is a key part of this proposal to reconfigure and modernize the
weapons. Decisions on Rocky Flats cannot be made in a vacuum
relative to decisions regarding relocation of other functions and/or
Question: Could some time be gained now instead of waiting for
a Secretarial decision on the entire complex in fiscal year 1994?
Answer: There are options within the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA) process to separate out decisions, such as Rocky
Flats, prior to the final record of decision. The Programmatic
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process, however, is already
minimizing the time period for completing required NEPA activity by
performing site-specific reviews for Rocky Flats in conjunction with
the larger Programmatic issues. Time savings have, therefore, been
built into the process to the maximum extent possible. It is
believed that separation of the decision on Rocky Flats from the
current programmatic EIS process would gain less than 3 months.
The NEPA process is only one part of the Rocky Flats relocation
issue. A Site Evaluation Panel is evaluating several specific sites
for a preferred alternative from the aspects of lowest life cycle
cost, as well as environmental, sociological and other aspects of the
Savannah River Reactor Restart/Tritium Requirements
None of the 3 Heavy Water Reactors (K, L, and P Reactors) at
Savannah River have operated since 1988 because of operational,
safety, and environmental problems. After over 2 years and many
hundreds of millions of dollars, the Department of Energy hopes to
restart the K Reactor in the summer of 1991.
Question: What are the current plans for the operation of the
3 reactors at Savannah River?
Answer: The Department issued a Record of Decision on February
4, 1991, that formalized the Department's decision to operate
K Reactor and defer until later the operation of L Reactor.
Operation of P Reactor will be deferred indefinitely and that reactor
will be maintained in cold standby. Reactor restart is expected to
be in the summer of 1991 for K Reactor. Our intent is that L Reactor
be made ready to operate within 12 months notice in the event of
problems with K Reactor reliability.
Question: How much has been spent since 1988 to bring these
reactors, and associated personnel and management performance up to a
standard which would allow restart?
Answer: For the period from FY 1988 through FY 1992, we
anticipate that we will spend $1.7 billion for reactor restart
activities. However, during the same period of time, we had planned
on spending approximately $0.8 billion for operation of the three
reactors. Therefore, we estimate that through FY 1992 we will spend
$0.9 billion more than was originally estimated to have been spent on
the reactors for the period.
Question: What level of confidence do you have that the
K Reactor can be operated safely?
Answer: There are two major activities that will provide the
Secretary with assurance that the K Reactor can be safely restarted
and operated. First, the Department of Energy (DOE) has prepared a
Safety Evaluation Report (SER). The DOE SER is very similar in
concept to evaluations conducted prior to the startup of troubled
commercial nuclear facilities, and it specifically outlines the
activities that must be accomplished prior to a restart decision.
Second, an Operational Readiness Review led by senior DOE personnel
will be conducted. The results of these two efforts will provide
sufficient information for the Secretary to make a restart decision.
Of course, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has been
actively involved in the review of restart activities at the Savannah
River Site reactors and their input will also play a role in the
Question: Are there any technical or safety issues which need
to be resolved and what are the planned solutions for those problems?
Answer: The K Reactor is currently being tested to ensure that
reactor safety systems are functional. This testing will identify if
there are any outstanding technical issues that must be addressed
before a restart decision.
Additionally, there are two known technical areas of concern
that we are focusing attention on at this time.
First, a reactor design problem associated with gamma heating
has been identified at the Savannah River Site reactors. Gamma
heating is the absorption of gamma radiation by reactor in-core
components which occurs normally during reactor operations. Gamma
heating only presents a problem during the low probability occurrence
of a loss of coolant accident, when the reactor tank partially drains
causing in-core components to be exposed to air and not adequately
cooled. Such an accident could result in the failure of reactor
safety rods. Current efforts are being directed to manufacturing new
components with materials that are able to withstand the postulated
temperatures. Operating the reactors at a lower power level may
preclude this problem. However, additional study is required.
Second, there are concerns with the ability of the reactors to
withstand seismic events. Recently, it became clear that
uncertainties related to the characterization of the "soft zone"
earth layer below K Reactor are sufficient to require the
consideration of seismically induced subsidence.
Question: Are there any legal issues which could impact your
ability to restart the reactor in December as scheduled?
Answer: In the legal arena, there is a Consent Order between
the State of South Carolina and the Department of Energy which allows
the continued discharge of thermal effluents from K Reactor until
December 31, 1992, pending construction and operation of a cooling
tower. However, notwithstanding the Consent Order, the Natural
Resources Defense Council, Inc., and the Energy Research Foundation
have filed a suit challenging restart prior to completion of the
cooling tower. The United States District Court for the District of
South Carolina, in which this case is pending, has instructed the
parties to set up a schedule under which the Court can hear argument
sometime in July on a motion by the plaintiffs for a preliminary
injunction against restart.
Question: Over the past 2-3 years the production reactor needs
have changed significantly. Considering the tritium requirements
needed for existing and new weapons, setting aside the reserve issue,
does DOE agree with a recent GAO report which concluded that "without
starting any reactors, sufficient tritium supplies will exist to meet
the anticipated needs ... for the next several years." And " ... that
one Savannah River reactor can meet projected tritium requirements
over the remaining useful life of the reactor.".?
Answer: The General Accounting Office (GAO) report you
reference contains factually incorrect statements [DELETED]
This reserve issue
cannot be set aside. Therefore, the conclusion of the report that
there is additional time to evaluate outstanding issues before
restarting the Savannah River Site reactors is incorrect and
If the tritium reserve [DELETED] is not included
as demand, the Department of Energy analyses show sufficient tritium
inventory to meet requirements through [DELETED] without new
production. However, because of the length of the production cycle
from irradiation through extraction, reactor production of tritium
must be resumed at least 14 months prior to the expected shortfall
date. However, we do not consider it prudent management to delay
restart to the latest possible date as that does not allow time to
deal with any unexpected problems with reactor restart, attaining
planned power levels or processing irradiated targets. Therefore,
the Department plans to restart one reactor during the summer of 1991
assurance that the nuclear weapons stockpile will
not be impacted.
Finally, we would like to emphasize that the GAO report did not
disclose any new supply and demand information that the Department
had not already shared with the Congress.
Savannah River Reactor Restart/Tritium Requirements
Question: What are the projected tritium requirements,
exclusive of reserve and with the reserve component, for each year
Answer: I will supply a table for the record which identifies
the projected annual tritium supply and the projected annual tritium
demand for the period FY 1991-1996. (The information follows):
PROJECTED TRITIUM SUPPLY AND DEMAND
FY 1991 - FY 1996
Question: How does DOE plan to provide the material each year
through 1996, i.e., reactor production, retirements, etc.?
Answer: In addition to the demands identified in the table that
I provided for the record in response to the previous question, there
is decay demand on the Department of Energy (DOE) inventories. This
decay demand varies depending on the projected size of the DOE
inventory over time [DELETED]
Any forecasted shortfall in supply is satisfied
by utilizing inventories above the minimum required [DELETED]
and the rest must be made up by production in the
Savannah River Site reactors.
Question: How is the tritium reserve level determined (please
Question: Could you explain recent reports that DOE has
sufficient tritium to last until 1994? Does this include an amount
Answer: Exclusive of any reserve requirement, it is estimated
the nuclear weapons stockpile will be adversely impacted about
[DELETED] without new production. However, because of the length
of the production cycle (irradiation in reactors, basin cooling of
irradiated targets, and extraction of tritium from the cooled
targets) the reactor production of tritium must resume at least 14
months prior to that expected shortfall date. [DELETED]
Question: How has the requirement to refill tritium bottles
changed since 1970?
Question: Is DOE working on any technologies or advancements
that would change the refill cycling? If so, please explain.
Answer: The Department of Energy (DOE) continues to investigate
technologies and advancements to extend refill cycling periods.
Question: How will retirement of weapons in the stockpile
change in the future?
Answer: The surge in retirements between FY 1991 and FY 1993 as
shown by the table, provides an additional tritium resource to the
Department of Energy (DOE). Because all tritium decays at a rate of
5.5 percent per year, these quantities only serve to forestall DOE
tritium shortfalls for a short time. Without these retirements, DOE
would be facing immediate problems with availability of tritium gas
and the requirement to restart several tritium reactors as soon as
possible. Reactor restart for tritium production remains critical to
stockpile maintenance activities [DELETED]
, but with reduced stockpile levels, we now
require the immediate operation of one reactor to accomplish this
FY 1990 FY 1991 FY 1992 FY 1993 FY 1994 FY 1995 FY 1996
Question: What has been the level of retirements each year
since 1987 and how did the actual retirements compare to those
planned and the levels projected in the Nuclear Weapons Stockpile
Answer: I would like to provide the information for the record.
(The information follows:)
FY 1987 FY 1988 FY 1989 FY 1990
End of Year [DELETED]
Each year after the NWSM is forwarded, the stockpile is updated
approximately quarterly via the Planning & Production Directive. For
example, in 1988 there were a significant number of changes in
retirements. The rationale for these is as follows:
After publication of the FY 1988-1993 NWSM the DoD requested
accelerating the retirements of several systems. [DELETED]
The [DELETED] warheads were a mix of systems reflecting
small DoD inventory adjustments. DoD and DOE agreed with these
Question: Isn't there a double benefit to tritium requirements
by retiring existing weapons-retrieving tritium in the weapon for
reuse and not having to provide future tritium refilling?
Answer: After taking tritium decay into consideration there
would be some benefit to tritium requirements by retiring a weapon
versus providing tritium refilling, but not "double". Reuse of
existing tritium in weapons being retired has already been
incorporated into calculations provided to Congress regarding tritium
requirements for the stockpile.
Question: How long can DOE meet their tritium requirements
without the New Production Reactor? Is it unreasonable to think that
DOE could provide the necessary tritium into the next decade through
optimum management of retirements and operation of the K Reactor at
Answer: The need for tritium is dictated by the Nuclear Weapons
Stockpile Memorandum which is approved annually by the President.
The latest memorandum, which has been signed since last year's budget
submittal, dictates a need for tritium that is significantly lower
than the corresponding memoranda from 1988 and 1989. Due to changes
in material needs, the Department expects to be able to meet
requirements by operating only one Savannah River Site (SRS) reactor,
K. A second reactor, L, will be maintained in a ready status should
it be needed.
There are no viable near-term alternatives for the production of
tritium other than the SRS reactors. No life-limiting conditions at
these reactors have been identified, even though they are nearly
40 years old. We are instituting enhanced inspection and testing
that should alert us to changes in the reactor situation so that
preventative maintenance and/or replacement of equipment can be
performed in a timely manner. With the improved maintenance
practices we are initiating, we are optimistic that these reactors
will be able to operate until new capacity is available. However,
based on plans underway in the commercial industry for its aging
reactors, it is important that this new capacity be developed on an
Nuclear Weapons Complex Reconfiguration
Question: Please provide the Committee with a brief summary of
the conclusions and recommendations of the Study? How long would it
take to complete this effort and what are the preliminary cost
estimates to carryout the various options?
Answer: The Nuclear Weapons Complex Reconfiguration Study (CRS)
contains four primary conclusions. The first is that the size of the
nuclear weapons stockpile is getting smaller and will likely continue
to do so for the foreseeable future. The second is that the existing
nuclear weapons complex is oversized for the current and projected
nuclear weapons production requirements and therefore is inefficient,
somewhat technologically obsolescent, and suffering from numerous
materials condition problems. The third is that the ownership and
operating costs of the existing nuclear weapons complex are likely to
increase to achieve and maintain compliance with Federal, State and
local laws, regulations and orders. The fourth is that the only
credible way to address all of the aforementioned issues is to
reconfigure the nuclear weapons complex and reduce its size.
There are three primary recommendations coming out of the CRS.
The first is that the nuclear weapons complex should be reconfigured
to relocate the operations of the Rocky Flats Plant, and any other
nuclear operations that may be beneficially collocated with them, at
a single complex site. The second is that the nonnuclear
manufacturing operations of the nuclear weapons complex should be
consolidated and privatized to the maximum extent consistent with
economic realities and security requirements, with a goal of having a
single dedicated nonnuclear manufacturing site in the nuclear weapons
complex. The third is that future nuclear weapons complex facilities
should be designed with the ability to flexibly respond to changing
workload requirements and the ability to readily incorporate new
technologies as they become available.
The CRS projects that the nuclear weapons complex could be
reconfigured, given the uncertainties surrounding the fiscal,
environmental and legal issues that are likely to emerge, no later
than FY 2015. The Department of Energy has a goal for a major
portion of the reconfiguration effort early in the next century. The
preliminary cost estimated for reconfiguration activities are
documented in a number of tables located in the CRS. The capital and
non-capital cost estimates for reconfiguration range from
$6.7 billion to $15.2 billion, depending upon the alternatives and
stockpile cases chosen.
Question: What are the major milestones and schedule for
completing the Record of Decision and initiating work on the
Answer: The Department of Energy is preparing a Reconfiguration
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), which will lead
to the issuance of a Record of Decision on the future configuration
of the nuclear weapons complex, and is in the process of procuring an
architectural and engineering (A&E) firm that will develop and
analyze the preliminary designs for future nuclear weapons complex
facilities. The major milestones for the PEIS are: Complete Public
Scoping Meetings, September, 1991, Publish draft PEIS, November,
1992; Complete Public Hearings on Draft PEIS, March, 1993; Publish
Final PEIS, June 1993; Issue Record of Decision, October, 1993.
Question: In light of the major commitments that DOE currently
has underway (SSC, environmental restoration and waste management,
New Production Reactor, etc.), how does the Department plan to
address the budgetary issue presented by this massive undertaking.?
How do you see the reconfiguration effort meshing with DOE other
commitments without adverse budgetary impact?
Answer: The present nuclear weapons complex will continue to
require increasingly larger operating funds to upgrade the facilities
to comply with Federal, State and local laws, regulations and orders
in order to fulfill its defense missions. The reconfiguration and
downsizing of the nuclear weapons complex offers-the opportunity to
reliably satisfy the Department of Energy's defense obligations for
the long-term. The Department of Energy believes that a substantial,
real increase in its near-term budget will be required following the
Record of Decision for Complex-21. In the near term, tough decisions
will need to be made to balance the priorities to minimize any
adverse budgetary impact. The Superconducting Super Collider does
not directly compete with defense activities for funds, though it
obviously places large demands on the Nation's limited fiscal
Question: What are the national security implications of a more
compact and less diverse nuclear weapons complex?
Answer: The reconfigured nuclear weapons complex is planned to
maximize its ability to respond to rapidly changing workloads and
stockpile requirements. It would be designed to facilitate the
timely and cost-effective incorporation of new technology into
nuclear weapons complex operations, as it becomes available.
Properly configured and executed, the reconfigured nuclear weapons
complex will be capable of meeting all the Defense Programs mission
more economically without adverse impacts on national security.
Question: What is the justification for the budget request for
the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Weapons Complex
Reconfiguration going from $225,000 in FY 1991 to over $43,000,000 in
FY 1992? What is the basis for the $42 million request for
Answer: The $42 million in FY 1992 for contractual services
includes $25 million to fund preparation of the Programmatic
Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) by a PEIS contractor.
Activities include an Architectural and Engineering contract to
develop conceptual designs and to continue to define feasibility and
cost estimates for reconfiguration options; selection of candidate
sites for relocation of the Rocky Flats Plant; evaluation of
outsourcing the production of non-nuclear components; and exploration
are intended to provide technical justification for construction of
the ignition and gain facility (e.g. the NOVA Upgrade).
The NIKE laser development at the Naval Research Laboratory is
being accelerated with assistance from LANL. The Sandia National
Laboratories is concentrating its efforts on improving ion beam
divergence and focusing on the Particle Beam Fusion Accelerator in
anticipation of a program review in 1992.
The Department is also implementing certain organization change
recommended by the NAS committee. The Department has elevated the
Division of Inertial Confinement Fusion to the status of the Office
of Inertial Confinement Fusion under the Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Military Application and is taking appropriate actions to form a
committee to advise the Department on technical matters and policy o
importance to the national ICF program. Further, the Department has
conducted a review of ICF classification policy to identify areas
where the present guidelines might be modified to facilitate
university and industrial participation without encouraging nuclear
weapons proliferation. The final report of this review is under
consideration by DOE management.
Question: If full implementation were to proceed, how would the
budget for Inertial Fusion change?
Answer: Full implementation of the National Academy of Science
(NAS) recommendations would require a significant increase in funding
for the inertial fusion program. I will provide a table for the
record which presents hypothetical outyear funding of the inertial
fusion program and displays the recommended funding by NAS. The
outyear dollars for the base program are based on fiscal 1991
appropriations for operational expenses increased by 4 percent in th
outyears. (The information follows the next question.)
Question: Provide a funding profile which fully-implements the
recommendations along with a profile of the budget planning targets
over the next 5 to 10 years.
Answer: I will provide the information for the record. (The
[CHART IS FOUND IN THE ORIGINAL]
Question: What is the status of the Laboratory Microfusion
Answer: The Laboratory Microfusion Capability Study is within
four months of completion. The initial draft of the final report
should be complete by late May, with the final report expected by the
end of August 1991.
Question: How much is the facility expected to cost and when
will the program be ready to undertake such a project?
Answer: Current estimates for the cost of the Laboratory
Microfusion Facility (LMF) are $600 million to $1.2 billion (1989
dollars). The exact cost depends on the LMF scope and the optional
systems (e.g., additional target chamber) deemed feasible. While the
goal of the Inertial Confinement Fusion program is to develop and
operate the LMF, the Department of Energy intends to follow the
latest recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS),
which call for "expeditious demonstration of ignition and gain" as
the highest priority of the program. To follow the NAS guidelines,
the ICF program will first focus on Precision NOVA experiments to
achieve technical grounds for proceeding to an ignition facility,
which in turn will support a decision on whether to proceed with an
LMF. The rate of progress toward realization of an LMF will, of
course, depend on the technical success of the program as well as
level of funding. If both are good, construction of an LMF could
begin as early as 2000.
Question: Both the AURORA program at Los Alamos Lab and the
NIKE program at the Naval Research Lab use krypton fluoride (KrF)
laser technology in pursuing scientific research. How are these
program different and why was the AURORA program ranked lower than
the NIKE program by the National Academy of Sciences?
Answer: Although both the AURORA and NIKE programs use KrF
laser technology, their respective program objectives were different.
The goal of the AURORA program was the demonstration of KrF laser
technology as an inertial fusion driver. On the other hand, the NIKE
program is to build a KrF laser with high uniformity with which
experiments on direct drive instability studies can be conducted.
The NIKE laser aims to produce a laser beam with greater than
1 percent uniformity with which laser plasma instabilities in flat
plate geometry can be studied.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommended that the
Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program concentrate on achieving
ignition and modest gain in the laboratory using an upgraded NOVA
laser. Considering funding limitations and a thorough review of the
AURORA program, the NAS reviewers considered it too difficult and
expensive to implement a full implosion capability on AURORA.
Specifically, the NAS report stated, "Moreover, the AURORA laser
cannot be used to prove the NOVA Upgrade will succeed in reaching the
goal of ignition in an x-ray driven hohlraum target.'
On the other hand, the NAS concluded that the Naval Research
Laboratory (NRL) is a relatively small and innovative part of the ICF
program and a proponent of direct-drive. 'It (NRL) has been a
pioneer in experimental and theoretical studies of Rayleigh-Taylor
iristabilities, and has provided much of our understanding of how
ablation suppresses potentially fatal growth of these instabilities
and makes it possible to contemplate direct-drive targets.' The NAS
recommended 'an acceleration of the NIKE construction schedule."
Question: When does the Department plan to close out the AURORA
laser program, how much will be spent of that program in 1991 and
1992? What is the justification for these expenditures?
Answer: The AURORA program is being phased out in FY 1991.
This includes an associated reduction in force action at the
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In FY 1992, laser activities
at LANL will be in support of the NIKE KrF laier construction and the
NOVA glass laser program. I would like to provide further
information for the record. (The information follows):
Year Budget Activity and Justification
FY 1991 $2.2 M Downsizing Studies and Initiate Facility
FY 1992 $0.7 M Complete Facility Decommissioning
Question: Provide for the record for each facility the
technical justification, the forecasted results expected for each
facility, and how the technical objectives of the programs are being
achieved. Also, specifically describe program plans by individual
laboratory and facility for fiscal year 1992.
Answer: The Particle Beam Fusion Accelerator II (PBFA II) at
the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque provides an
alternative to high energy lasers as a driver for inertial fusion.
That concept uses a beam of light ions to drive the imploding
capsule. This alternative concept reduces the risk in developing an
affordable driver for inertial fusion in a laboratory.
PBFA II is now being operated at full energy and techniques are
under test for concentrating that energy to maximize the power
delivered to the target. Other tests are designed to optimize
sources for generating lithium ions. Experiments in focusing the
beams and coupling them to diagnostic targets are underway.
Experiments with imploding targets will start this year.
The HERMES III accelerator, also at the Sandia National
Laboratories, was developed as a weapon effects simulator. HERMES
III has been operated as a positive polarity machine, as is required
of a light-ion accelerator. This alternative design offers promise
as a pre-prototype module of a driver for a Laboratory Microfusion
Capability. It is not yet known whether a laser or particle beam
driver will ultimately be most efficient for driving inertial fusion
Overall the Sandia Inertial Confinement Fusion program is
emphasizing reduction in ion beam divergence and conducting of target
physics experiments at increasing power concentration. The major
program milestone for fiscal year 1992 ii the successful completion
of a major review of technical progress in the summer of 1992. This
program is consistent with the recommendations of the National
Academy of Sciences (NAS).
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) operates the
world's most powerful solid state laser, NOVA, as an inertial fusion
research experimental facility. NOVA is also used by researchers in
a number of other fields, including weapon physics. In the inertial
fusion program, NOVA is used mainly for indirect drive
experiments--laser beams converted to x-rays which then couple to the
By FY 1992, improvements to the NOVA experimental facility will
have been completed as part of the Precision NOVA development program
and will result in improved beam balance, pointing accuracy, and
LLNL is conducting an experimental campaign on NOVA which is
designed to explore the interaction of lasers with plasmas and
imploding capsule physics. Issues to be explored include pulse
shaping, requirements for symmetry and balance in the laser
irradiation, laser-plasma coupling efficiency, stability of
fuel/capsule interfaces, and target designs intended for high gain
implosions. Current plans consider a possible upgrade of the NOVA
laser to an energy output of 1.5 MJ to 2.0 MJ to achieve ignition and
modest gain (10) by 2000 in support of the NAS recommendations.
The University of Rochester, Laboratory for Laser Energetics
(UR/LLE) currently operates the 24 beam, 2kJ OMEGA laser. To
determine the future role for direct-drive, experiments need to be
conducted at near-ignition conditions, unattainable at present.
While beam-smoothing techniques have permitted high-quality, direct-
drive implosions to study the limitations on target performance
imposed by hydrodynamic instabilities, the direct-drive data base is
insufficient to assure the success of high gain targets. These
experiments are not possible on the existing NOVA facility at LLNL,
since that laser does not produce smooth enough beams nor satisfy the
strict uniformity requirements required for direct-drive. Modifying
the existing NOVA laser for direct-drive would cost more than the
OMEGA Upgrade and would compromise the mission of that facility,
which is to validate the indirect-drive concept prior to construction
of the NOVA Upgrade for ignition and gain.
The Naval Research Laboratory conducts model studies on
instabilities. Inertial fusion experiments have stopped on the
PHAROS III glass laser. The Naval Research Laboratory effort is
focused on development of a small, 3 to 4 kJ, KrF laser called NIKE.
The goal of the NIKE development is to demonstrate a laser beam
illumination uniformity on target of plus or minus one percent and
continue collaboration with the Los Alamos National Laboratory on KrF
technology development. Completion of NIKE will allow basic
experimental investigation and validation of the results of theory
and computer simulations for KrF laser-matter interaction
AURORA facility decommissioning is starting in FY 1991. The
decommissioning will be completed in FY 1992.
Question: Provide for the record a funding profile of the total
estimated cost by year through completion and the milestones for the
NIKE Laser Development
Omega Laser Upgrade
Pulsed Power Development
Answer: I will provide the information for the record. (The
PROJECT FUNDING a)
(Dollars in Millions)
Activity FY 1990 FY 1991 FY 1992 FY 1993
Precision NOVA 2 $ 8.8 $ 7.8 $ 6.1 $ 3.1
Development 4.9 8.8 9.2 11.6
OMEGA Laser Upgrade 0 8.5 8.1 8.2
Development 29.2 31.3 34.7 35.1
NOVA Beamlet 0 3.4 3.7 3.8
The major milestones for the above projects are:
FY 1991 - Complete Beamline A and High Energy Discharge Array
FY 1992 - Complete Beamline B, and 20 cm Amplifier
FY 1993 - Complete Target Facility, Control Systems, and
a) The Department of Energy has not established funding profiles for
the NOVA, NIKE and Pulsed Power activities beyond FY 1993, since they
are not classified as major projects but operating and/or capital
equipment acquisitions for experimental research programs. A funding
profile was developed for the OMEGA Upgrade, since it is a major
modification to an entire laser/target experimental system. However,
available funding was greatly reduced from the plan and therefore
total projected cost and schedule is being reevaluated.
New Production Reactors
The budget request for FY 1992 for the New Production Reactors
program is $500 million, consisting of $152.3 million in operating
expenses, $336.5 million in construction funds, and $11.2 million in
capital equipment funds.
The Department's preferred strategy of proceeding with a Heavy
Water Reactor (HWR) at Savannah River, a Modular High-Temperature
Gas-Cooled Reactor (MHTGR) at Idaho Engineering Lab, and contingency
development of a Light Water Reactor (LWR) tritium target for use in
the partially completed WNP-1 reactor at Richland has been changed.
The new strategy is to continue preliminary design of both the HWR
and MHTGR through the Record of Decision in December 1991 at which
time the Department would select a single technology and site.
Uncertain tritium requirements brought about by a significantly
reduced stockpile coupled with the restart of the K Reactor at
Savannah River bring into question the Departments "urgent" schedule
to bring a NPR on line.
Question: Why was it necessary to change the New Production
Reactor strategy from the Department's 2 reactor-2 site preferred
strategy to a single reactor technology-single site strategy?
Answer: The concept of building two new production reactors at
two sites could no longer be supported given the multiple competing
priorities within the Atomic Energy Defense account. Therefore, at
the Record of Decision scheduled for December 29, 1991, the
Department proposes to select only a single reactor technology and
site with which to proceed into detailed design and construction.
Question: Was it simply budgetary constraints or were there
other factors (including tritium requirements) involved?
Answer: The decision to prematurely curtail the preferred
duality strategy of two reactor technologies built at two sites was
based upon funding constraints within the Atomic Energy Defense
account. The Department has always maintained that duality is the
preferred approach to providing an assured supply of nuclear
Question: What impact does Secretary Watkin's statement that
the Department can provide enough tritium to meet production
requirements through the decade have on the NPR construction
Answer: Secretary Watkins' statement was based on the
assumption that the Department would be able to produce tritium from
the current production reactors in Savannah River which have been
shut down since April 1988. One of these reactors is scheduled to be
restarted later this year with another to be placed on standby and
the third closed down. Currently these reactors are 37 years old and
will be 47 years old when the proposed New Production Reactor is
scheduled to be operational. Therefore, the New Production Reactors
Program has not altered any construction schedules and will remain on
an urgent schedule.
Question: What risks are associated with going to a single
reactor strategy and how might this change DOE's evaluation of the
Answer: The primary risk associated with building only a single
reactor is that the Nation will have only a single source and
location for tritium production in the next century. To mitigate the
possible effects of this, we are developing a contingency light water
reactor tritium target. The three reactor technologies identified
initially by the ERAB were the most advanced and reliable
technologies proposed for tritium production. Therefore, Department
of Energy's evaluation of these competing technologies will not be
altered due to the fact that we are currently proposing to build only
a single reactor.
Question: There has been some concern expressed about how DOE
will ensure that the NPR will "meet or exceed" safety levels afforded
by modern commercial nuclear power plants. Is this level of safety
needed and how will DOE ensure it?
Answer: One of the primary objectives of the New Production
Reactors (NPR) Program is to provide a level of safety and of safety
assurance that will meet or exceed that offered to the public by
modern commercial nuclear power plants. The Department stands firmly
behind this commitment. The NPR Program has developed specific
safety requirements that "meet or exceed" the requirements for modern
commercial nuclear power plants. These requirements are in addition
to the Department's own standards. The design, construction and
operating organizations within the NPR are strictly responsible for
complying with these safety requirements. Independent of these line
management organizations, there is a self assessment Office of Safety
and Quality which reports to the Director of the NPR Program and is
responsible for conducting comprehensive evaluations of compliance
with the safety requirements. They will verify for the Director that
the safety standards have been met or exceeded. The Office of
Nuclear Safety, reporting directly to the Secretary of Energy, will
likewise do the same validation for him. Finally, the Defense
Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an organization separate from
Department of Energy, is providing oversight of the safety of the NPR
design, and will provide oversight of the construction and operation
of the new reactor with recommendations made directly to the
Question: What are the major milestones between now and
selection of the technology and site?
Answer: The major milestones between now and the Record of
Decision include issuance of the draft Environmental Impact
Statement, which was done on April 19, 1991; issuance of the final
EIS, scheduled for November 29, 1991; and finally the Record of
Decision, the selection of the technology and site, which will occur
on December 29, 1991. Currently the NPR Program is in the midst of a
60-day public comment period which will be completed on June 17,
1991. During that time the NPR will hold 13 public hearings at five
states around the three proposed sites.
Question: What is the total project cost estimate for both the
HWR and MHTGR technologies? Provide a funding profile, through
completion, for each technology along with a schedule of the major
Answer: The New Production Reactor (NPR) has developed a total
estimated cost (TEC) based upon conceptual designs which cover
capital and construction costs only. The TEC for the heavy water
reactor, on a ten year construction schedule, is $5.490 billion in
year-of-expenditure dollars and for the modular high-temperature gas-
cooled reactor plant, on a twelve year construction schedule, is
$5.466 billion. The MHTGR is a four module plant which equates to
one-half the output capacity of the proposed HWR. As part of the
preparations for the record of decision, the NPR Program is currently
developing the TEC for an eight module gas reactor plant which could
produce a comparable amount of tritium to the HWR. The total project
cost (TPC) estimate includes the TEC plus operating costs associated
with the Project such as EIS preparation, training of operators, and
safety oversight activities. These costs are being identified an,
along with other life cycle costs, will be available prior to the
Record of Decision. The overall schedules for the NPR Program are
currently being revised to reflect the new funding levels and the one
reactor strategy as outlined in our FY 1992 budget request. We
anticipate that this activity will be completed during the summer of
Question: What is the status of the Department's review and
conclusion related to the potential use of a linear accelerator to
product nuclear materials?
Answer: The conclusions reached after a technical review of
accelerator technology is that it is considered to be an
insufficiently mature technology for the Department to build a
production machine by the year 2000. Significant questions remain
regarding technical feasibility, operational reliability, cost and
the availability of a dedicated power source.
Question: If the MHTGR technology is not selected, what impact
would that have on the commercial nuclear energy development program?
Answer: If the modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactor
technology is not selected as the New Production Reactor technology,
the commercial program would suffer a significant delay and would
require a restructuring of the program within existing budgets.
Question: How much is included in the budget request for LWR
target development and will it be completed in FY 1992? If not,
provide a funding profile by year through completion.
Answer: The light water reactor (LWR) tritium target
development will be completed in FY 1993. The budget request for LWR
target development in FY 1992 is $25 million and in FY 1993 it is
also $25 million.
New Production Reactors
Question: The FY 1992 Budget of the United States Government
(normally referred to as the appendix to the budget) includes
language related to the New Production Reactor. Could you explain
why this language is needed and why it was not included in the
Department's detailed budget justification document?
Answer: The language which your question refers to is the
following: "...of which $100,000,000 shall be for the design of new
production reactor capacity, to become available for obligation sixty
days after issuance of the Record of Decision on the Environmental
Impact Statement on New Production Reactor Capacity,".
This language is not necessary for the Department to carry out
these activities, however, it is consistent with the activities and
schedule anticipated in FY 1992. It is our understanding that the
Office of Management and Budget added this language late in the
process primarily so that the outlays scored against the $100,000,000
in Budget Authority could better reflect real expectations rather
than a higher rate driven by the formula used for the overall
account. This was necessary to stay within the outlay target for the
050 function. Finally, because this decision was made late in the
process and the Department's budget had already been printed, this
language change does not appear in the Department's detailed budget
Naval Reactors Development
The FY 1992 budget request transfers funding for the enriched
material program to Naval Reactors. This amounts to $122.8 million.
Question: What is the Justification for funding the enriched
materials program under Naval Reactors?
Answer: It was decided to place budget responsibility with the
user. All of the material produced with this funding is used by
Question: The committee understands that the Department is
currently reviewing the potential uses of surplus enriched uranium
that may be available from weapons retirements and other activities.
When did the Department first become aware of this possibility and
what are the potential uses of this enriched uranium?
Answer: The Department first became aware of the potential for
surplus enriched uranium from the weapons program when it became
apparent there would be a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons.
Potential uses for this material include naval reactors, new
production reactors, and research reactors.
Question: What is the current status and schedule for
completing DOE/DOD coordination and review activities and making a
Answer: The review effort will be completed this Summer. It
will present options and recommendations for decision by the
Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Defense.
Question: What criteria will be used in making the decision?
Answer: The criteria used to make the decision will include
weapons requirements, other user needs which are defense and non-
defense related, and production capability in the event additional
material is needed in the future.
Question: What are the potential budgetary savings if this
material is used for other purposes? Provide a table showing the
estimated savings for each possible use.
Answer: The review to be completed this summer will include the
estimated budgetary savings if this material is used for other
purposes. The budget savings can vary greatly depending on the
specific quantities and timing of material availability for the
various applications. The impacts on the need for new and/or
existing production and processing facilities will be included.
Question: Are there any scientific or technical reasons why
this material could not be used in Naval reactors?
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR DOMENICI
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to report that we are making
significant progress in implementing the National Competitiveness
Technology Transfer Act that was adopted as part of the FY 1990
Defense Authorization Act.
I am pleased to say that the Secretary of Energy has made a
strong commitment to implementing the policies embodied in the bill,
and that we are seeing promising collaboration with other federal
agencies, most notably the Department of Commerce. The federal
government is launching an initiative which I believe makes the
valuable scientific talent and resources of our national laboratories
available to the private sector to help promote America's
competitiveness in world markets.
May I say I count on the continued strong support of the
Department of Energy, and aggressive action by the Administration, to
make this initiative a success. A great potential is there, and we
have passed it up for far too long. It is time to be on the move.
For FY 1992, the President has requested $32 million for the
technology commercialization initiative. This is $12 million above
the FY 1991 funding level that this Subcommittee so generously
supported last year. I am pleased by the budget request, however, I
understand that the responsibility for the technology transfer
program has been put under the Acting Deputy Science and Technology
Advisor for Defense Programs.
Question: What is the rationale for the reorganization of
responsibility for technology transfer?
Answer: The realignment of the technology commercialization
function to the Defense Programs Deputy Science and Technology
Advisor will significantly elevate the reporting stature of this
program to an appropriately higher level within the DP organization.
This realignment was part of a broader realignment of functions
within the Department and was done to improve the management of
current high priority programs including technology transfer. Of
paramount importance in this realignment is the fact that the Defense
Programs Deputy Science and Technology Advisor's role is one of
direct oversight of the weapons laboratories and the conduct of day-
to-day interactions with the laboratory directors so as to further
technology commercialization and other Departmental national security
goals and objectives. In this capacity, the DP Deputy Science and
Technology Advisor will be in the best position to manage and oversee
the maturation of the Defense Programs technology commercialization
program with our national laboratories, field offices, and industrial
partners. These changes should be of enormous benefit to this
rapidly growing program.
Question: How will the Department's transfer of these program
responsibilities improve the operation of the program?
Answer: This function within the Defense Programs' Science and
Technology portfolio, as opposed to being combined with export
control, classification, or specific technology programs, provides
increased attention to technology transfer, thereby improving its
Question: Will the Department, through the Acting Deputy
Science and Technology Advisor, be aggressive in implementing the
Tech Transfer Act?
Answer: The Department plans to continue its aggressive and
vigorous implementation of the National Competitiveness Technology
Transfer Act. The involvement of the Deputy Science and Technology
Advisor in the Defense Programs Technology Commercialization
Initiative is another indication of high-level support to the overall
technology transfer effort of the Department.
Question: Would you please bring the Subcommittee up-to-date on
the coordinating efforts the Department is taking to learn from, and
to cooperate with, other federal agencies involved in technology
Answer: Within Defense Programs, under the Technology
Commercialization Initiative, there is a concerted effort to assure
cooperation with other technology transfer efforts, including those
within DOE as well as with other Government agencies and to benefit
from their experience. Within the Department, there are periodic
meetings with other programs to review activities and identify
opportunities for potential collaboration. This has already resulted
in joint funding of several projects. In the advanced manufacturing
area, Defense Programs is participating with the Department of
Defense and other agencies in reviewing the DOD MANTECH program and
developing a National Defense Manufacturing Technology Plan.
Specifically, Defense Programs is leading the review of the role of
technology transfer and manufacturing extension services in that
plan. Defense Programs is also represented in a number of other
interagency activities such as the DOD Centers of Excellence and the
Advanced Manufacturing Study of the National Science Foundation. In
addition, the laboratories have been encouraged to seek the
involvement of other agencies in their programs.
Question: Please provide a detailed summary of what DOE has
done organizationally and fiscally to implement the technology
Answer: Within Defense Programs, the technology transfer
function is being reassigned to the Deputy Science and Technology
Advisor, who reports directly to the Assistant Secretary for Defense
Programs. The staffing for technology transfer within Defense
Programs has grown from a staff of two in FY 1990 to seven in
FY 1991. Defense Programs has been working with other Departmental
elements and other government agencies to find opportunities for
collaboration in areas of mutual interest to pool and leverage
resources. At the Defense Programs laboratories, the contracts have
been modified to incorporate the provisions for the National
Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act (NCTTA). Similar
modifications for production plants are under consideration.
Activities at the laboratories that have been significantly increased
include the expansion of the Offices of Research and Technology
Application (ORTAs), outreach to potential partners among U.S.
industry, and the development of cooperative agreements with private
sector partners. In FY 1991, the budget for technology transfer
activities at Defense Programs laboratories includes a $20 million
line-item for Technology Commercialization and an indirect allocation
of up to 0.5 percent from the laboratories' R&D budget, estimated to
total approximately $11 million. In response to the Defense
Programs' call, the laboratories and other facilities submitted over
60 proposals for joint activities with private sector partners that
exceeded by half the available funding in FY 1991.
Question: Can you describe how DOE goes about determining the
needs of industry in this program? In other words, what outreach
activities will DOE take to let industry know what technology it has,
and how does DOE determine how it can best make its technology
available to industry for its use?
Answer: Industry needs are determined in a number of ways.
Both DP and the laboratories have consulted with a variety of private
sector organizations in formulating the program, including
representatives of private companies, trade and professional
associations, and other groups such as the Manufacturing Forum of the
National Academy of Engineering and the Council on Competitiveness.
Increased laboratory participation in conferences and seminars, as
well as personnel exchanges, also contribute to a greater
understanding of industry needs.
Defense Programs' outreach strategy is focused on two levels:
national and local. The national level effort is directed to
increasing industry awareness of the existence of the Defense
Programs Technology Commercialization Initiative, the overall
capabilities of the Defense Programs complex, and our interest in
working with th# private sector. The local effort is 'aimed at
identifying specific technologies and capabilities and the
opportunities for industry to participate. In general, the
opportunities are available to all interested parties although the
proprietary interests of companies will be respected.
In the final analysis, the ultimate measure of success in
determining industry needs is their willingness to cost-share the
work. Based on industry expressions of support to date, as evidenced
by the response to the call for proposals, the program is on the
Question: Would you please provide for the record a list of the
technology transfer agreements that DOE has signed?
Answer: At this time two technology transfer agreements have
been signed: the Special Metals Processing Consortium at Sandia
National Laboratories and the Human Genome project at Los Alamos
Question: Would you also provide a list of agreements currently
pending final approval and signature?
Answer: For the record, I will provide a list of Joint Work
Statements (JWS) and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements
(CRADA) currently pending final approval and signature. (The
Status of Status
Facility Technology Transfer Project JWS CRADA
LANL Continuous Air Monitor Pending Pending
LANL Characterization and Evaluation
of Dense Monolithic Superconductors Pending Pending
LANL Development of Advanced DNA Sequencing
Technologies Approved Approved
SNL Integrated Circuit Reliability
SNL Integrated Circuit Reliability
SNL Intelligent Processing of Assemblies Approved
SNL Physical Security Systems Approved
SNL Physical Security Systems Approved
SNL Integrated Circuit Reliability
SNL Solvent Reduction Pending
SNL Digital Product Data Pending Pending
Y-12 Regional Manufacturing Initiative Approved
Y-12 Environmentally Compliant
Question: How many new agreements does DOE expect to support if
the full budget request of $32 million is appropriated?
Answer: During FY 1991, the Defense Programs Technology
Commercialization Program budget is projected to support about
35 agreements for collaborative activities between the laboratories
and the private sector. Most of these activities are beginning the
first year of a multiyear effort and will require follow-on funding
in FY 1992. The "mortgage" for projects carried over into FY 1992 is
projected to be approximately $20 million, and the remaining budget
will support only about 15 additional agreements, depending on the
scope and requested funding of the projects. The call for proposals
for FY 1992 has been sent to the laboratories, and the actual
selection of projects will be decided at the beginning of the fiscal
year. Additional impacts on the FY 1992 budget may arise from CRADA
partnership opportunities at the laboratories that are independent of
the proposal call, but for which funding is currently not allowed
from the indirect allocation for technology transfer at the
laboratories, or is not available from other sources.
Question: I am pleased to learn that the industry response to
the technology transfer initiative has been so positive; that
industry is coming to DOE with cash in hand to participate in these
joint Ventures. How much additional funding would DOE need to
support these projects in FY 1992?
Answer: The projects that Defense Programs is initiating in
FY 1991 are multiyear activities based on a 50 percent cost-share
with the private sector partners. We are committed to continue our
cost-share arrangements with private industry in FY 1992 and will
require follow-on funding of approximately $20 million. The
remainder of the FY 1992 budget will be devoted to initiating new
project activities. Based on the significant response to the
technology commercialization program in FY 1991, it is anticipated
that substantial funding increases in FY 1992 would be fully matched
Question: What is the largest amount of funding industry has
been willing to commit thus far to a consortia effort under this Act?
Answer: The total industry cost-share for FY 1991 activities is
projected to be approximately $20 million. This reflects the total
amount of resources offered by the private sector partners, including
funds, equipment, and in-kind services, for all of the collaborative
projects initiated in FY 1991. Many of these activities will involve
industry consortia or multiple partner arrangements.
Mr. Chairman, the Secretary has put a high priority on this
initiative, among the many important issues he has to address. I
trust that when the ongoing review of the appropriate missions for
the national labs in the post-Cold War period is completed,
technology transfer will be given prominence. I believe that this
country could do no better to help American business and industry
become more competitive than to allow them access to the nation's
most significant research and technology development resource--our
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR HATFIELD
New Production Reactor Program
Light Water Reactor - Tritium Target Development
It is my understanding that the need for the development of a
light water reactor tritium target has always been in terms of a
'contingency program." In other words, a tritium target which could
be readily adapted to currently existing light water reactor designs
if the need arose for accelerated tritium production in case of a
While this 'contingency' concept may have had some validity in
the past, especially after the Savannah River reactors were shut
down, I must strongly question the need for such a contingency
program under current circumstances. These circumstances include the
following three items:
(1) The Department recently distributed the draft EIS on the New
Production Reactor program which, if all goes according to schedule,
will result in the selection of a final technology and location in
(2) I believe that it is the Department's intention to restart
the tritium-producing K Reactor at Savannah River this summer.
(3) The General Accounting Office, in its February 1991 report,
Nuclear Materials: Decreasing Tritium Requirements and their Effect
on DOE Programs, indicated that there has been a dramatic decrease in
tritium requirements since 1988, and that DOE now has additional time
to make decisions regarding future tritium production needs.
Question: In light of the restart of K Reactor, the progress on
the New Production Reactor, and the GAO's finding that there has been
a dramatic reduction in tritium requirements, dd we really need a
light water reactor contingency program any longer--one which was
initiated a decade ago when a better case for tritium production
could be made?
Answer: The justification for the New Production Reactors (NPR)
Program, in its entirety, including the light water reactor
contingency, has been based upon providing production capacity for
the next century. It is not based upon quantity, but rather the
ability to provide what ever quantity the President feels is
necessary in the years 2000-2040. The current production reactors,
which have been shutdown since April 1988 will be 47 years old when
the NPR is scheduled to be operational. On February 27, 1991,
Secretary Watkins transmitted a letter to the Comptroller General
regarding this issue. In this letter Admiral Watkins states, 'The
GAO report contains factually incorrect statements and faulty
conclusions.' Further, the GAO report disregarded the [DELETED]
a reserve supply of
tritium. The need for a reserve has been clearly demonstrated while
the current Savannah River reactors have been shut down and all
tritium production has been halted. The maintenance of the light
water reactor contingency is now more than ever, a necessity in order
to guarantee the existence of assured production capacity to preserve
our Nation's nuclear deterrence. Essentially it serves as an
insurance policy should any unanticipated technology or siting
problems occur in the future.
Question: There already exists a proven tritium target for the
heavy water reactor, and I understand that we are very near a final
proof test for a tritium target for the MHTGR (Modular High
Temperature Gas Reactor). While there may have been a legitimate
argument ten years ago for the need to develop a light water target -
before the MHTGR target was developed - what is the justification for
needing three tritium targets today - especially since tritium
requirements have decreased dramatically in the last decade.?
Answer: The Department identified the most advanced and
reliable technologies for potential tritium production. The
environmental impact statement, currently being prepared, is
evaluating all three candidate reactor technologies and the three
proposed sites. The Department will continue with design and
development work on all three technologies until the final EIS is
completed. Until that time the Department may make no
environmentally significant decisions, such as selecting a reactor
technology or choosing to eliminate from consideration one of the
technologies. The justification for the New Production Reactors
(NPR) Program has always been adequate capacity as opposed to
quantity. The NPR will eventually replace the 37 year old Savannah
River reactors which have been shut down since April 1988,
essentially halting all tritium production for the Nation.
Question: The Department of Energy has been pursuing the
development of a light water reactor tritium target since about 1981.
Could you please provide the Subcommittee with the amount of money
that has been spent on this program since 1981 - including transfers
Answer: The Office of New Production Reactors was created in
October 1988, subsequent funding for light water reactor tritium
target development work, including transfers and reprogramming, will
total $54.4 million from FY 1988 through FY 1991.
Question: In addition, please provide the Subcommittee with an
estimate of how much additional funding will be necessary, beginning
with FY 1992, to complete the development of a light water tritium
Answer: The light water reactor tritium target budget request
for both FY 1992 and FY 1993 is for $25 million respectively. The
light water reactor tritium target development program will be
completed in FY 1993.
Question: In 1988, the Energy Research Advisory Board reviewed
all the tritium target technologies. The Board determined that full
size light water targets would have to be tested under full operating
conditions in order to verify specific design. Will the currently
proposed light water target tests be sufficient, or will tests have
to be done in a currently operating light water reactor to be
meaningful? If nothing else, I am very concerned with the
implications that this could have on our nuclear non-proliferation
Answer: There are Currently no plans to irradiate light water
targets in a commercial light water reactor.
The mission of the LWR Tritium Target Development Plan is to
demonstrate and qualify a high-temperature LWR tritium target, with
fabrication and extraction processes sufficiently confirmed to
ensure a deployable target consistent with production needs. The
demonstration and qualification of this technology will include a
target rod design data package and performance specification that
provide the technical information for analysis and prediction of
integrated plant operation so that technical operating specifications
and operating procedures can be generated.
Sufficient testing, in DOE's Advanced Test Reactor, of targets
will be completed to qualify the target design to the performance
specification. The testing is being accomplished in pressurized
water reactor conditions.
Additionally, sufficient other testing will be completed to
verify the thermal, hydraulic and mechanical stability and
reliability of integrated target and fuel assemblies in a hydraulic
testing facility. This testing also will be conducted at pressurized
water reactor conditions of temperature, pressure, water chemistry
and water flow.
As a result, testing of an integrated target and fuel assembly
in a commercial light water reactor are not planned.
New Production Reactor Program
Light Water Reactor - Tritium Target Development
Question: On page 382 of your FY 1992 budget justification, it
indicates that your total request for tritium target development is
$46 million dollars. On that same page, under the heading "Major
Laboratory and Facility Funding," the request for the Richland
Operations Office is $25,485,000. Is the entire $25,485,000 for
Richland all related to the development of the light water tritium
Answer: Of the $25,485,000 shown under Richland Operations
Office, $25,000,000 is for the development of the light water tritium
target. The balance of funds, $485,000, is to complete Environmental
Impact Statement related tasks at Pacific Northwest Laboratory and
Westinghouse Hanford Company.
Question: On page 381 of your FY 1992 budget Justification, a
sentence appears saying the "Program Direction" funding for New
Production Reactors includes substantial travel costs to all three
proposed reactor sites (Savannah River, Idaho and Richland). Please
provide the amount budgeted for travel to Richland under "Program
Direction," and a breakdown of proposed expenditures at Richland
under all the remaining program activities (Program Support, Safety
Review Process, Environmental Compliance, etc.)
Answer: A breakdown of the proposed FY 1992 funding for
Richland, including travel expenditures under the Program Direction
line, is summarized in the following table. (The information
Confirmatory Development $ 0
tritium Target Development 25,000,000
Conceptual Design 0
Environmental Compliance 485,000
Safety Review Process 0
Program Support 0
Program Direction (Travel) 57,600
Total Operating Expenses $25,542,600
Capital Equipment 0
Total Funds at Richland $25,542,600
PUREX Processing Plant
In the Senate Report on the FY 1991 Energy and Water
Development Appropriations Bill, language was included which gave the
Department specific direction regarding the PUREX processing plant at
Hanford. Included in that language were the following items:
o The Department should consider the completion of an EIS prior
to reopening the facility.
o Operation of the facility should not be resumed until
completion of an independent safety review by the Defense
Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.
o The Department should undertake a comprehensive assessment,
with independent oversight, which explores all the available
options, including long-term interim storage and direct
disposal, and other such options that would not require
operation of PUREX or an oxidation facility.
o The Committee also disapproved of the Department's transfer
of PUREX to the waste management program.
Question: Please provide the Committee with an update on the
activities surrounding the PUREX facility, specifically recounting
all activity relating to the four above items.
Answer: Since Senate consideration of the Department's FY 1991
budget request, the Secretary has determined that the PUREX plant
does not need to operate in support of weapons program plutonium
requirements. In October 1990, the Secretary also announced that the
Department would prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that
addresses options for disposal of the inventory of Hanford spent
fuels. PUREX operation will be included in these options. We have
no current plans to operate the PUREX plant unless, at the completion
of EIS analyses, it is selected as the preferred safe and
environmentally acceptable disposition alternative for Hanford spent
In accordance with established Departmental policies, PUREX
would not be restarted for a waste management mission without first
assuring our ability to operate safely. As with other restart
efforts, the Department anticipates that several reviews conducted by
internal organizations (such as the Office of Nuclear Safety) and
external organizations (such as the Advisory Committee for Nuclear
Facility Safety or the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board) would
be conducted before PUREX operations were resumed.
Based on our decisions not to restart PUREX in support of the
weapons program and our subsequent decision to prepare an EIS, we
understand from discussions held with Senate Appropriations Committee
staff that the committee has withdrawn its objections to the transfer
of PUREX to the Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste
Management. This transfer is on schedule to take place in the fourth
quarter of FY 1991.
Weapons Complex Reconfiguration
It is my understanding that the Department has included $42
million in its FY 1992 budget for its Weapons Complex Reconfiguration
Initiative. While I applaud the Department's intention to modernize
and reduce the size of the nation's nuclear weapons production
facilities, I was disturbed to learn that the Hanford Reservation is
a candidate site for some of the proposed consolidated operations.
Question: In light of the fact that the major activities slated
for Hanford in the foreseeable future are related to waste clean up
under the Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Program, why
is Hanford now being considered as a site for future defense
Answer: The Department of Energy's Weapons Complex
Reconfiguration Initiative is a process stretching over several years
and beginning with the preparation of a Programmatic Environmental
Impact Statement as required by the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA). The Department of Energy must examine reasonable alternative
approaches to reconfiguration. To avoid prejudicing the viability of
any alternative, this analysis will include an alternative to place
new weapons facilities at the Hanford Reservation.
Question: How much weight will local public acceptance and
regional Congressional support be given during the site selection
process for the consolidation?
Answer: In the process of preparing the Programmatic
Environmental Impact Statement, a variety of criteria and concerns
will be considered, including socioeconomic factors such as public
acceptance at the regional, state, and local levels. In the absence
of issues that might be Judged as disqualifying a particular site
from further consideration, all criteria will be considered in any
decision about the future configuration of the complex.
Question: How much of the budgeted $42 million do you intend to
spend on investigating the potential of the Hanford site?
Answer: Of the $42 million budgeted for FY 1992, $17 million is
to support the development of a capital asset management process and
condition assessment surveys for the entire nuclear weapons complex.
The remaining $25 million is not apportioned by location, however,
only a very small portion will be spent on direct investigations of
the Hanford Reservation. The deletion or addition of the Hanford
Reservation to the list of alternatives has little effect on the
overall level of effort.
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